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"Truth in Campaigning" overturned

Reported by Chrish - October 13, 2005

Who knew we had truth in campaigning?? On Fox Report last night 10/11/05, Shepard Smith reported that Washington State Court of Appeals has has overturned the "Truth in Campaigning" law, which "barred candidates from knowingly lying about their opponents," citing First Amendment rights.

Dan Springer was in Washington State with the story.

2002 State Senate Green Party candidate Marilou Rickert had been sued for saying that her opponent, Tim Sheldon, had voted to close a facility for the handicapped. She argued that she was exercising her free speech rights, and her right to criticizie the government and not be intimidated.

As she was shown speaking, the chyron beneath read "Marilou Rickert (G) Lying Politician"

The judges' opinion overturning the "Truth" law read in part

"...every person must be his own watchman for truth, because the forefathers did not trust any government to seperate the true from the false for us."

The Washington Attorney General is appealing the decision. A final ruling is expected some time next year, which could have an effect on other states.

Springer wrapped up the story like this: "At stake is what voters will hear from candidates for elections to come, the state's highest court to decide whether government should play lie detector or if politicians who smear their opponents should get a free pass."

Comment: We don't need the government in that role, but laws to protect the victims of the lies should remain in effect so they can have some recourse. Smears should not get a free pass! Dan, there are usually more than two ways to look at and resolve a problem.

Smith tells us that the Federal Trade Commission protects consumers with strict truth-in-advertising laws, but there's no such protection for voters. TV and radio stations can turn down any ad from candidates for political office, but if they do decide to show the ads the Federal Communications Act requires that they show them uncensored, even if the station believes the content is offensive or false.

Comment: This is discouraging. As more people grow more jaded and cynical and voter turnout declines the fiercely determined and organized will continue to turn out in force. It's an awful downward spiral and if the administration really cared about democracy they'd shore it up right here at home. Riiight.

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